Knox Students Develop Theme for College's Anniversary

'Inspire, Empower, Transform' is their creation for Knox's 175th year

October 06, 2011

John Spittell with students who developed theme for 175th anniversaryDrawing on lessons learned in a Knox College marketing class, three Knox students developed the theme for the college's 175th anniversary year: "Inspire, Empower, Transform."

Those three words appear on many items related to the 175th anniversary of the founding of Knox College and the City of Galesburg -- including a special website and banners hanging throughout the Knox campus.

Here's a look at the students and how they came up with the theme.

Q: Who are the students?

A: Kelly Nicole Eigenberger, a junior from Broomfield, Colorado; Renni Johnson, a junior from Lincoln, Nebraska; and Lotte Vonk, a junior from Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

While they have different majors, all three are pursuing minors in business and management. Eigenberger is an art history major. Johnson is a creative writing major. Vonk is a psychology major with a second minor in visual communications.

All of them were enrolled in Strategic Brand Management, taught by John Spittell, Professor of Business and Management and Executive-in-Residence at Knox. (Above photo shows Spittell with students Eigenberger, at left, Vonk, at center, and Johnson)

Q: How did they become involved in the effort to craft Knox's 175th anniversary theme?Kelly Eigenberger, Lotte Vonk, and Renni Johnson

A: As part of Knox's planning process for the 175th anniversary celebration, all students in the Strategic Brand Management class were asked for their input in deciding what the theme should be. At one point, members of the class met for lunch with Spittell to discuss their ideas in greater depth.

Eigenberger, Johnson, and Vonk took a particular interest in the project, and they volunteered to spend extra time working on it.

Q: Why was it important to them to become involved with this?

A: Eigenberger -- "After having taken several business classes at Knox, it wasn't much of a shift to begin thinking about Knox as a client -- putting the skills I learned in class to use. (This) was something that I felt I could absolutely help with."

Johnson -- "Volunteering to work on this project was both a privilege and a responsibility, I feel. Getting involved in the project allowed me to give back to Knox and to uniquely contribute to the school."

Vonk -- "I cared about it. I thought it was a good thing to be involved in, and I really felt strongly about students being involved in this process," she said. "I also wanted to do it because I was already involved with (the Knox Office of Public Relations), and I thought it would be fun."

Q: How did they finally decide on "Inspire, Empower, Transform" as their recommendation for the theme?

A: The students, along with Spittell, conducted a "word association" exercise, considering what Knox means to a wide range of people -- including Knox students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents, along with other Galesburg residents. Eventually, they narrowed down the choices to "Inspire, Empower, Transform."

Q: What do the words in the theme signify to the three students?

A: Eigenberger -- "The great thing about these words is that they all go hand-in-hand. After Knox, a perspective can only be different. The atmosphere here does something to students; it instills in them tolerance, patience, and empathy. We can change the world around us only if we work together to do it."

Johnson -- "These three words are verbs with different directions. I Inspire Knox. I Empower Knox. I Transform Knox. Knox Inspires me, Empowers me, Transforms me. Galesburg Inspires Knox, Empowers Knox, Transforms Knox, and vice versa."

Vonk -- "The words go somewhere. You start with inspiration. Without inspiration, you won't be empowered. Without empowerment, you'll never have the energy to transform."

Q: What do they hope the words signify to others?

A: Eigenberger -- "I want people to believe in the change I have been seeing and feeling in myself."

Johnson -- "I hope that when people consider these words, they always find them applicable to what they are doing -- whether they have thought of an idea, been encouraged, or been given an opportunity such as an internship. (I hope) that when they look back, they realize how they and their life have been changed -- and how they continue to be changed -- by Knox and this community."

Vonk -- "I hope it makes everyone realize what the relationship is between Knox and Galesburg. (The theme) applies to both of us and to our relationship. We inspire each other, we empower each other, and we transform each other."